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Don’t Put All of Your Search Marketing Budget in the Google Basket

Yesterday Greg Sterling reminded us all of Google’s search engine dominance and the growth (or decline) of the market share of Yahoo!,, Live (MSN) Search and AOL Search.

In the comment field one reader, Dan of (which appears to be an arbitrage site), asked…

I have adjusted my paid search spend using this data. Do you think it would be wise to put 99% of my paid search budget into the GGL [Google] basket?

No!! Don’t throw all of your budget into the Google AdWords Basket, not yet at least!

Ever since SES Chicago I’ve been trying to pay more attention to where small businesses are directing their search marketing revenue online and although many I have spoken with are more or less happy with Google, we must remember, that AdWords is covering about 57% of the paid search reach among the major search vehicles and in some circumstances, AdWords does not always show the best return on investment (ROI).

More than Google?

It may be tempting to put 99% of the search budget into Google, especially with such a proven, simple and automatic system… and with Google Analytics integration, search to click to conversion measurement is easier than ever.

But instead of going down the easy road, sometimes the road less traveled can result in more targeted traffic, enhanced ROI, and introduce you to new online marketing methods which you may not have thought of before.

Try Yahoo! & MSN Live Search

Who cares if Google is the most popular search engine? That may be irrelevant depending upon your target market.

Yahoo Search Marketing and MSN (Live Search) in some cases attract a much different demographic than Google. If you’re targeting women, married women, middle & heartland America, and Walmart customers; Yahoo and MSN may surprise you.

Why? The popularity of their registered members network, games, clubs, forums, communities and messaging programs can attract a very loyal and network-centric user group. Just call your mom or grandmother and ask them what their homepage is on the computer… chances are they’ll say either Yahoo or MSN (this is a very unscientific life experience based guestimation).

In addition, Yahoo’s new Search Marketing system is quite innovative compared to what they used to offer, so if it didn’t work for you before, try testing it again.

Testing a Campaign

My advice is to keep 60% of your search marketing budget running on Google (make sure you’re only targeting Google’s Search Network unless you’re prepared to also manage a Contextual Advertising campaign as well) and run some tests on Yahoo Search Marketing and MSN adCenter.

* Due to differences in title and copy allowance, presentation of ads, and the demographics you’ll be targeting; try different copy or enhancing what’s already working for you on Google.

* Try geotargeting or demographic targeting as both companies are working on enhancing these forms of campaigns.

* Import your keywords from your Google campaign into these tests, and ask representatives from Yahoo or Live (or use their keyword suggestion tools) to find new terms or matching schemes which may work for you.

* Don’t forget misspellings and the names of competitors – especially on the local level – as these targeted placements can bring in new customers.

Measuring End Results

After a couple of weeks or a month of testing on Yahoo and MSN Live Search, compare your end result to that of Google AdWords. If you’re bringing in a better ROI via Yahoo or MSN Live than Google, there’s no reason to be spending more on Google than the other search engines.

If the ROI is similar, look into different ways to enhance your click thru rates and enhance the conversions on your site. Some small changes can lead to huge profit and company savings; allowing more search marketing budget and more sales in the long run.

Once optimal ROI is reached in Google, Yahoo and MSN… try other paid search alternatives like Ask Sponsored Listings or LookSmart.

If your MSN and Yahoo ROI stinks, and you really can’t see it improving, redirect that budget back into the Google basket.

Next Steps

Now that your paid search campaigns are bumping and if your doing in-house SEM or outsourced SEM, try upselling or building proposals for enhanced search marketing including:

* SEO & Link Building
* Directory Submissions
* Local Search Marketing
* Social Media Optimization
* Online Media Buying
* Email Marketing
* Niche Blog Sponsorships

And no, I’m not a super expert on paid search, just an experienced search marketer who has turned campaigns around for many clients. If you’re looking for more tips and tricks in terms of beefing up your paid search marketing campaign I suggest:

Search Engine Roundtable
Pay Per Click Analyst
MSN adCenter Blog
Yahoo Search Marketing Blog
Inside AdWords

Have anymore resources to suggest? Please leave a comment below:

Category SEO
SEJ STAFF Loren Baker Founder at Foundation Digital

Loren Baker is the Founder of SEJ, an Advisor at Alpha Brand Media and runs Foundation Digital, a digital marketing ...

Don’t Put All of Your Search Marketing Budget in the Google Basket

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